George Szamuely: Bombs for Peace

NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia

Amsterdam University Press, 2013


SzamuelyThis illuminating study describes the genesis of the contemporary doctrine of humanitarian intervention. It is the first comprehensive analysis of Western policy towards the Balkans from the late 1980s on. Previous works have often taken partisan approaches focusing on isolated events rather than the multifaceted conflict of which such events were a part. Though scholarly, the book will also appeal to a wider audience interested in world affairs.

In the late 1990s NATO dropped bombs and supported armed insurgencies in Yugoslavia while insisting that its motives were purely humanitarian and that its only goal was peace. However, George Szamuely argues that NATO interventions actually prolonged conflicts, heightened enmity, increased casualties, and fueled demands for more interventions. Eschewing the one-sided approach adopted by previous works on the Yugoslavian crisis, Szamuely offers a broad overview of the conflict, its role in the rise of NATO’s authority, and its influence on Western policy on the Balkans. His timely, judicious, and accessible study sheds new light on the roots of the contemporary doctrine of humanitarian intervention.

“This book is an important re-analysis of the propaganda and self-serving deceptions that were used by NATO governments and major human rights organizations during the Yugoslav conflicts, in order to justify waging an aggressive war against Serbia that was against the foundational principles of the UN Charter and even of NATO’s own charter. The dominant NATO member states gained geopolitical and economic advantages through mounting an aggressive war, while the human rights organizations increased greatly their incomes, access to resources from NATO governments, and the kind of power to provoke war that, inevitably, corrupts those who claim to be following humanitarian ideals. The work is based on substantial research, much of it drawing on the very sources that the protagonists of ‘humanitarian war’ had used to justify their turn to aggression, and showing the falseness, inconsistency and even duplicity of the latters’ arguments. At the same time, the book is in no sense an apology for the actions of the Serbian regime under Slobodan Milošević, making it clear that the charge that to oppose NATO was to support Slobo was as false as the rest of the propaganda behind aggression disguised as humanitarianism. As the NATO actions against Libya show, the precedents created in the interventions in Yugoslavia are still dangerous, not only to regional stability but to the very people who supposedly are to benefit from being subjected to humanitarian warfare.”  Robert M. Hayden University of Pittsburgh, author of Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflicts (University of Michigan Press, 1999) and From Yugoslavia to the Western Balkans: Studies of a European Disunion, 1991-2011 (Brill, 2013)

About the Author:

George Szamuely is a senior research fellow in the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University. He has worked as an editor and editorial writer at the Times (UK), the Times Literary Supplement, and the National Law Journal, and contributed to the Daily Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal.

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"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
Ramana Maharshi